The Holidays in Philadelphia

Guide to the top holiday events

Celebrate the holiday season in America’s birthplace!

With one of the largest Christmas markets in the country, a giant 65-foot tree, a Made in Philadelphia pop-up market surrounding City Hall, a Holiday Carousel, Winterfest on the waterfront, and much more – it is no wonder that POPSUGAR cited Philadelphia as one of the top places that holiday-lovers need to add to their holiday travel list.

Top Philadelphia holiday events:

Thanksgiving Day Parade

Philadelphia's Thanksgiving Day Parade photo courtesy of 6abc.

Philadelphia’s annual Thanksgiving Day Parade, in its 100th year as the oldest Thanksgiving Day parade in the country, is Thursday, November 28 at 20th & Market Streets to the Ben Franklin Parkway, concluding at Eakins Oval in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Craft Markets

Christmas Village photo by D. Lakatos.

Christmas Village in Philadelphia returns to LOVE Park through Christmas Eve. The outdoor holiday market is modeled after the traditional Christmas Markets in Germany and features over 80 vendors selling hand-crafted goods. The Made in Philadelphia Holiday Market transforms Dilworth Park into a winter wonderland with more than 40 local artisans offering gifts and holiday foods through January 1.

Holiday House Tours

Photo courtesy of Strawberry Mansion.

Deck the Alley features tours of the private historic homes on Elfreth’s Alley, America’s oldest continuously lived on street, as residents open their homes to the public for tours. Admission includes seasonal refreshments, colonial carolers, holiday stories and more. Take a Historic Houses of Fairmount Park Holiday Tour, A Very Philly Christmas, as the six Fairmount Park “Charms,” Cedar Grove, Laurel Hill Mansion, Lemon Hill, Mount Pleasant, Woodford and Strawberry Mansion, are dressed up with themes for the holidays, with special events and more.

Holiday Performances

George Balanchine's The Nutcracker photo by A. Iziliaev.

The Pennsylvania Ballet, one of America’s leading ballet companies, performs the annual holiday spectacle, George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker each December, featuring the Philadelphia Boys Choir and the Pennsylvania Ballet Orchestra at the Academy of Music.

ADDITIONAL HOLIDAY PERFORMANCES:

  • Walnut Street Theatre’s A Christmas Carol
  • Holiday Ice Skating

    Winterfest photo by M. Stanley for Delaware River Waterfront Corporation.

    Ice skate with a view of the Delaware River at Penn’s Landing, the city’s waterfront district, at the annual Winterfest, Philadelphia’s largest outdoor ice skating rink, open seven days a week starting in November through the beginning of March. And don’t miss the Rothman Institute Ice Rink at Dilworth Park and Wintergarden, right next to iconic City Hall, open seven days a week through February.

    Holiday Light Shows

    Deck the Hall Light Show photo by P. Tobia.

    The Deck the Hall light show brings Philadelphia’s City Hall to life with the sights and sounds of the holiday season, November through January the beginning of January.

    ADDITIONAL HOLIDAY LIGHT SHOWS:

    • Macy’s Grand Court Light Show inside the Wanamaker Building, a National Historic Landmark.
    • Franklin Square’s Electrical Spectacle
    • Peddler’s Village Grand Illumination and Gingerbread House Competition and Display
    • Holiday Celebrations

      A Longwood Christmas photo by K. Huff for PHLCVB.

      This Christmas, experience the spectacular both indoors and out at Longwood Gardens with A Longwood Christmas and living floral displays, opulent ornaments, stunning trees, musical performances, organ sing-alongs and much more, November through early January in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania.

      ADDITIONAL HOLIDAY CELEBRATIONS:

      • The Philadelphia Museum of Art’s Holiday Celebration
      • The Comcast Holiday Spectacular
      • Adventure Aquarium’s Christmas Underwater Celebration
      • Sesame Place’s A Very Furry Christmas Celebration
      • Holiday Railway

        Morris Arboretum's Holiday Garden Railway photo by P. Meyer.

        The Morris Arboretum’s popular Holiday Garden Railway Display features a quarter mile of track with buildings all made of natural materials (bark, leaves, twigs, hollow logs, mosses, acorns, dried flowers, seeds and stones) to form a miniature landscape with rivers and buildings that are exact replicas of the original including Independence Hall and other Philadelphia-area landmarks, all decorated for the holidays, November through December. The Brandywine River Museum of Art’s annual tradition of A Brandywine Christmas celebrates the season with the O-gauge model train display, featuring nearly 2,000 feet of track, trees decorated with thousands of “critter” ornaments, and antique dolls from the museum’s collection November through early January with related programming and events, Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania.

        New Year’s Eve Celebrations

        New Year's Eve on the Delaware River photo by M. Stanley for Delaware River Waterfront Corporation.

        The City of Philadelphia continues the tradition of two sets of fireworks on New Year’s Eve at 6 p.m. and midnight over the Delaware River. Launched from barges in the river, the fireworks are choreographed to unique soundtracks that can be heard from Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing and Wiggins Park in Camden, New Jersey. The Moshulu, the world’s oldest and largest square rigged sailing vessel still afloat, hosts a four course dinner menu on New Year’s Eve with live music and opportunities to view the fireworks on the Delaware River at 6 p.m. and midnight. Spend the First Night of 2020 Aboard the Battleship New Jersey, December 31, 5 p.m. Enjoy dinner and breakfast at the “chowline,” tour the ship, ride the flight simulator and sleep in the bunks that the crew of the USS New Jersey once did, plus take in the unique view of the New Year’s midnight fireworks from the deck of the Battleship, Camden, New Jersey.

        New Year’s Day

        2019 Mummers Parade photo by K. Huff for PHLCVB.

        Philadelphia’s Mummers welcome 2020 just as they have rung in just about every New Year for more than a century. The parade begins at 9 a.m. at City Hall, down Broad Street to Washington Avenue. Viewing areas include the Grand Stand on Dilworth Plaza at 15th and Market Streets and in front of the Philadelphia High School for Creative & Performing Arts. All the fun and fancy continues with two ticketed shows at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. Catch MummersFest, December 28-31, an interactive opportunity to try on costumes, watch the clubs rehearse, go on a backstage tour, make crafts and learn to strut.

        MORE WINTER HIGHLIGHTS:

        • The National Museum of American Jewish History hosts Being ______ at Christmas, the annual day of family fun, December 25, from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., featuring live music, family activities, story time, sweets and more.
        • At one of the lowest points of the American Revolution, General George Washington and a small army of men crossed the Delaware River on December 25, 1776, and led a successful surprise attack on the Hessian garrison at Trenton, New Jersey. The Battle of Trenton, a key victory from Washington’s Continental Army, boosted their confidence to persevere and ultimately triumph. Washington Crossing Historic Park, the actual crossing site, hosts the 66th Annual Christmas Crossing Reenactment on December 25 from 1 p.m. – 3 p.m. (crossing time at 1 p.m.), Washington Crossing, Pennsylvania.
        • The Old Barracks Museum hosts the annual Patriots Week, December 26-31, celebrating Trenton, New Jersey’s unique and pivotal role in the American Revolution with dozens of events for all ages including musical performances, family activities, battlefield re-enactments and living history events.

           

          Cover photo by A. Iziliaev for Pennsylvania Ballet.

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